Armenia May Recognize Karabakh, Kocharian Says

YEREVAN (Combined Sources)–Armenian President Robert Kocharian Thursday said that Armenia would recognize the independence of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic if Azerbaijan does not change its approach to peace talks, Armenia’s president said on Thursday.
Kocharian told a press conference Thursday that the format of the OSCE Minsk Group is the best format for seeking a lasting and a final settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, but added that Armenia would not cling to it if Azerbaijan continued to seek its dissolution.
"If they do not want to negotiate with us, that’s their prerogative," Kocharian said. "We have always been ready for negotiations since it’s the only way to resolve the conflict."
But if talks break down, the responsibility will rest on Azerbaijan’s shoulders, Kocharian added. In the case that talks break down, Armenia may be forced to extend formal recognition to Nagorno-Karabakh and sign a defense agreement with it, he added.
Kocharian explained that Azerbaijan’s latest violations of the cease-fire agreement, their introduction of a resolution in the UN General Assembly, and their current efforts to seek the dissolution of the Minsk Group are all prompted by Kosovar independence. He said Baku is seeking to weaken Armenia and Karabakh and to prevent Kosovo from becoming a precedent for Nagorno-Karabakh.
There are more reasons for Nagorno-Karabakh to be a sovereign and independent country than there are for Kosovo, he explained. Karabakh declared its independence in 1992 and held a referendum to confirm it. It is a well-established state with fully functional government institutions and the ability to defend its borders, he added.
According to Kocharian, the latest serious breach of ceasefire by Azerbaijan, pushing through the UN a resolutions on Nagorno-Karabakh and its were to check the degree of Armenia’ strength.
Kocharian also said that Russia is firm in its support for continuing talks through the format of the Minsk Group.

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